The Surprising Reason Why McDonald’s Fries Taste so Good

McDonald’s fries are without a doubt one of the most popular — read most-beloved — types of french fries out there. Some might even go so far as to say they are iconic. That said, no matter how many times we bite into one, we are left wondering why McDonald’s fries taste so good.

Those of us that grew up loving the fast food restaurant can chalk it up to pure nostalgia. However, that’s not the only reason McDonald’s fries are considered a favorite. As it turns out, there’s a science — to some degree — behind it, and it has nothing to do with ingredients.

Discover the surprising reason why McDonald’s fries taste so good, ahead.

McDonald's french fries

Nostalgia isn’t the only reason we can’t get enough of McDonald’s fries. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Nostalgia

As we mentioned above, nostalgia could be partially to blame for the reason McDonald’s fries are so widely loved. After all, many of us grew up digging to the bottom of our Happy Meals for the last one. Also, nostalgia often boasts feelings of comfort and happiness, which can release those magical happiness chemicals known formally as oxytocins, serotonins, dopamines, and endorphins.

However, relying solely on nostalgia alone would be risky, so McDonald’s factors other, more prominent things in its recipe.

Taste

Without our taste buds, we wouldn’t be able to taste McDonald’s heaven-scent fries, so the taste is essential (though it’s not the most important!) When it comes to flavor, McDonald’s doesn’t just chop up a bunch of potatoes and stick them in a fryer. In fact, the additional ingredients added to the fries are key regarding flavor and that urge to come back for more (you know what we’re talking about).

To get the best tasting fast food fries on the market, McDonald’s combines a variety of ingredients, including salt, fat, and sugar. In the restaurant industry, these three components are commonly referred to as “the bliss point,” and boy is it blissful — especially the sugar, which helps release dopamine in the brain.

Fun fact: The McDonald’s french fries we know and love today aren’t original. In fact, most millennials have never even tasted an original McDonald’s fry. Before 1990, the iconic fast food item was fried in beef tallow, but one man by the name of Phil Sokolof changed all of that. After suffering from a heart attack, Sokolof campaigned for companies like McDonald’s to do away with saturated fats. He even went so far as to advertise on Times Square billboards and Super Bowl commercials. Thanks to his mission — and pressure from the public — McDonald’s changed its recipe. Today, all McDonald’s cooks its fries in a mix of canola, soybean, and corn oil.

McDonald's fries

The crunchiness of a McDonald’s french fry is unbeatable. | Christopher Jue/Getty Images

Texture

Let’s face it: The crunchiness of a McDonald’s french fry is out of this world. In fact, many crunch-lovers consider it a key component in their love for the iconic item. There’s something so satisfying about chewing on a McDonald’s fry, and it’s texture makes a world of a difference.

Smell

The surprising reason McDonald’s fries taste so good? It’s all in the smell. Scientists theorize a big part of our cravings and taste has to do with scent. In fact, the scent can amount to 90 percent of the flavor. That said, the ingredients aren’t the ones responsible for McDonald’s french fry smell — the oil and the added chemicals are.

After doing away with beef tallow, McDonald’s had to find a way to recreate its signature fry scent. The only way to do so? By adding chemical flavoring to the fryer.

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